Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Creative Stuffed Shells or Lasagna Pin Rolls

Cooking requires a considerable amount of creativity. Substituting a pinch of this for a pinch of that. Or realizing your pans are too big or too small for the amount of batter made which forces you to dust off your elementary math skills and do basic division. Recently I put my creative juices to the test when I made my famous stuffed shells without pasta shells.

I had a keen hankering for stuffed shells but to my despair I was lacking the most important ingredient for the dish, the vessel for the ricotta filling. Laziness kept me from going to the grocery store and instead I scoured my pantry for a substitute. Desperation turned me towards a spar box of lasagna. Surprisingly lasagna “pin rolls” turned out to be easier to make than stuffed shells. And, most importantly, just as delicious.

Using lasagna cooked al dente, I spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture and the spinach onto the noodle then rolled. My biggest concern was that the pin rolls would come apart when I served them up for dinner. But somewhere in the cooking process each pin-roll  beautifully firmed up and stayed together on everybody’s plate.

Creative Stuffed Shells or Lasagna Pin rolls
Loosely adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Serves 6

½ cup olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons salt
6 cloves crushed garlic
2 28oz cans crushed red tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

32 oz. ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
16 oz. mozzarella grated
1 ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 package frozen spinach
½ large onion
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup parmesan cheese

1. Place olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot or large deep skillet. Add crushed garlic, pepper flakes, and salt. Cooking, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes until garlic is just golden. Add crushed red tomatoes, oregano, and Italian seasoning. Stir until blended. Once the sauce is bubbling, reduce heat to low and cover.

2. In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, eggs, salt, about 2/3 of the grated mozzarella, Italian seasoning, and oregano. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and salt and cook for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5-10 more minutes, still stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown. Add spinach and cook till just warmed (about five minutes).

3. Preheat oven to 350. Pour a 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of a large deep-dish pan. I used an 11 inch by 14 inch pan, but whatever you use for a hefty lasagna should work. Make sure the entire bottom of the pan is well covered. Use more sauce if necessary.

4. Cook lasagna as directed. Lay noodles flat. Spread about a tablespoon and a half of ricotta mixture evenly onto the noodle. Repeat with a layer of a little less than a tablespoon of spinach. Roll noodle up (mixture/spinach side on the inside.) Place each rolled up noodle in the lasagna pan. Keep each pin roll close to each other. They should be packed in tight.

5. Once the pan is full, pour another third of the sauce over the pin rolls. Every pin roll should be at least lightly covered. Use more sauce if necessary. Evenly spread the remaining 1/3 mozzarella and sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top.

6. Cover the pan with tin foil. Cook for thirty minutes at 350. Uncover and cook for another 15 minutes. Dollop a spoonful of sauce from remaining 1/3 of sauce over each pin roll when serving.



  1. Yum, these look good. I think I'm hungry.

    Loving your recipes.

    FEST (food, style & travel)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. looks delicious!


  4. wowwww. You made this look so breezy. Think I may try it ;)
    Art a la Rue

  5. i've made those before! they're so delicious and looks like you worked hard :) happy weekend!

    love kat

  6. Shame on you for making me drool over these photos! I am bookmarking this recipe right now. I haven't had lasagna in at least two years. But this is on my to-do cooking task list for sure!

    ~New Blog launching 6/11/2012~